Microsoft officially announces Zune player, Marketplace

Microsoft officially announced its Zune media player and new online music service today. As previously reported, the Zune player will feature a 30GB hard drive, Wi-Fi wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen. Microsoft said the Zune will come in three colors—black, brown and white.

The company declined, however, to disclose pricing and an exact release date, only saying the Zune player would be available “this holiday season.”

In addition to the player, Microsoft also announced the Zune Marketplace, a new online music service “where you can choose to purchase tracks individually or to buy a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as you want for a flat fee.” The Zune Marketplace appears to be part of the Zune media manager software for organizing music, videos and photos and transferring them to the device.
Microsoft said the the Zune experience “centers around connection—connection to your library, connection to friends, connection to community and connection to other devices.” The Zune player will allow users to share full-length sample tracks of select songs and playlists with other Zune owners. Recipients will be able to listen to the full song up to three times over three days. Microsoft said the song can then be flagged on the Zune for purchasing from the Zune Marketplace.

Microsoft also announced three Zune accessory packs—the Zune Car Pack (FM tuner and car charger), the Zune Home A/V Pack (AV cable, dock, sync cable, AC adapter and wireless remote), and the Zune Travel Pack (earphones, remote, gear bag, sync cable and AC adapter). In addition, Microsoft, as expected, also announced that it is working with a slew of iPod accessory makers on third-party Zune accessories. Those companies include Altec Lansing, Belkin, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO), Griffin Technology, Harman Kardon and JBL, and Speck Products.